Photo and article by Keith Thompson
I have decided to take a break and let the readers write this column. I will use my time to reply to a few of the questions and comments that cross my desk. Questions, humorous stories, and accounts of less than intelligent acts committed by "others" are welcome, and may be sent to: Keith Thompson, 5488 Frances Dr, Cedar Hill MO 63016. Now on to the questions. Remember, I am not a veterinarian, lawyer, or financial consultant.
What's the deal, my son apprenticed under you, you moron, and he has failed the state exam four times? If you can't instruct him sufficiently so that he will at least be able to pass the test, don't you think he should seek out a more qualified sponsor and stop wasting his time on an incompetent fool like you?"
Technically your son is not my apprentice until AFTER he passes his exam. Now, he is more properly termed my disciple. Anyway, I have done everything humanly possible to help the kid, even giving him tips on writing down answers on his arms. Perhaps it's a hereditary problem?
Hasn't anyone ever instructed you on the proper method of threading jesses through bracelets? I noticed that in the pictures of your birds in A Bond With The Wild that the jesses are all threaded backwards. Are you stupid or what? Didn't you ever have a sponsor yourself?"
No and no. However, your observation can be explained by an error of the printer, who inadvertently printed the slides reversed, thereby causing them to seem as if they are threaded backwards.
My new bride is heavily into parrots. The screeching is driving me nuts, and now she's wanting me to build parrot cages on my weekends. Is there anything that I can do to get her more involved with raptors and falconry?"
If you think she screeches bad now, wait until after you've been married for a couple of years. A wife is trained by using the same underlying motivational factors we use on birds. If you have something they want, they'll do what you want. A bird will come quicker to a whole quail than to a tiny morsel. Give her a big showy ring, presents, and roses, and she'll be putty in your hands. Perhaps you should just count your blessings. Having a non-falconer wife does have its advantages. It can be pretty humiliating coming out of the field empty handed with your smirking spouse heavy-laden with game.
This makes over a year that you have been writing for this magazine. I don't see how anybody as stupid as you could last this long because you sound like you are as dumb as they come. How have you hung on for so long?"
I think you are on to the secret of my longevity. Stupidity. When I sit down to write one of these columns, I never think. Sometimes, thinking just slows a person down. By the way, you might think about getting yourself a typewriter and try writing yourself. Your letter shows considerable promise.
My husband is really into falconry. Although he is a pretty good falconer, oftentimes I catch more with my Harris' hawk than he does. Invariably, he will sulk and pout for days. What's a wife to do?"
I had a similar problem with a friend of mine. I'll call him 'Fred.' The way I solved it was any time our birds ended up on the same rabbit, I'd lie and tell him his bird caught the rabbit first. I've witnessed some pretty intense arguments over whose bird took a rabbit or jack, but I've never seen anyone that would argue that their bird DIDN'T catch it. If that doesn't work, then get him involved in a hobby. Maybe parrots.
How did you ever get a column in American Falconry magazine?"
When first approached by Steve Jones about doing a column for this magazine, I commented that it "sounded like just another over-priced falconry magazine to me." Steve replied, "Yes, but this over-priced magazine will be different. This one will line our pockets." I immediately knew that he had a point, this one was different!
Ever since, I have been living a life of indulgent luxury in this Hawaiian resort with the rest of the writers. Dave Perfetti is sitting on the beach to my right, attempting to clean the sand out of his lap-top. Scantily clad ladies seem to be everywhere. There goes Jack Oar now, playing frisbee with a couple of real lookers. Oops! Jack's setter missed that one. I think a shorthair would have caught it.
You suggested that I breed raptors to earn big bucks. You said breeders get all the chicks. Now I am poorer than ever. What's the deal?"
At the time that I made that suggestion, it very well may have been true. Times have changed. Now I would suggest switching to another species. You might consider parrots.
I have picked weed seeds from this families clothes for some 18 years. It seems that someone who hunts, often throws his seed-laden clothes in the laundry, where they eventually spread to everybody else's clothes in the wash. Is this fair?"
This is a subject that has long been neglected and deserves serious discussion. There are several ways that I would approach this problem. First, lets look at it from a historical viewpoint.
Indian women spent much time picking weed seeds from their men's clothing. Picking cockleburrs out of buffalo hair britches consumed much of their time. Squaws eventually began to develop clothing resistent to cockleburrs, devils forks, and beggarlice. They did this by gradually and continually shrinking the amount of clothing that their husbands wore. By the time that the white man arrived in North America, Native American males were down to two tiny pieces of loincloth. There is only so many cockleburrs or sandburrs that will fit on a loincloth. I believe that if we hadn't arrived when we did, these men would have been forced to go completely unclad. Native American men must have had very scratched up legs and were probably miserable.
Pioneer women attacked the problem by stitching buckskin pants. Leather pants shed weed seeds pretty well, but tended to be very uncomfortable until the invention of Fruit Of The Loom underwear.
Household duties have historically been divided between the sexes into two broad categories. They are manly duties and womanly duties. A man's work was usually characterized by mechanical (changing light bulbs) or physical (taking out the garbage). Women were the homemakers and nurturers. She raises the kids, shops, feeds the family, washes the dishes, cleans the house, sews, and DOES THE LAUNDRY. That touches our subject.
Next, lets examine it from the viewpoint of responsibility. As previously shown, washing clothes has always been a woman's chore, and I contend that washing clothes consists of more than just washing off dirt. It consists of cleaning the clothes of any foreign objects that soil them. If one of the kids spills chocolate milk on a shirt, would anyone argue that since chocolate milk isn't dirt, it doesn't fall under the responsibility of washing. Of course not! Chocolate milk is a foreign object that has soiled the clothes and thus falls squarely under the generic term washing. Now weed seeds are just as foreign to clothes as chocolate milk. Therefore whatever rule of nature compels the wife to wash out the chocolate, should with equal force apply to weed seeds. If not, why not?
I would REALLY like to think that this forever settles the question. However as I sit here facing a pair of seed-laden pants that my wife has just thrust into my face, I realize that the debate will go on.
I am working on developing the perfect lure. After reading Imprint Accipiters And The Recipe in the Winter 1996 edition of American Falconry magazine, I decided not to call my bird to the fist for food. But I still wanted a bird that would come back to me, perhaps to another part of my anatomy.
It has been hypothesized by Beebe that a lure shot out of a giant slingshot, starts out too fast and ends up too slow. I agree.
I tried one of those motorized wire guided units, but found the extra 120 pounds in my falconry bag was too tiring. It also took about an hour to properly set up.
Next, I mounted a stuffed rabbit atop a remote control motorized car. It works better, but now I need something aerial for my falcon. I, therefore, invented what I call the lure-cap. I keep it in my bag until I need to call down my bird, then I simply put on the lure-cap and run. So far I've had mixed results. My bird has bound to my face twice, but I believe it was only due to an overly strong tail-wind. What do you think?"
Far be it from me to discourage innovation. As we grow older, we tend to become more set in our ways. At times like this, I see how being set in your ways can sometimes be a blessing.
I have no complaints with my old moldy leather lure, except that it keeps getting left behind on the ground out in the field, which causes me to loose much time as I wander back and forth trying to locate it. I have noticed others with the same problem. They can be identified by the way they tie their lure lines to their bags. My problem has been that I keep forgetting to tie it on. I have somewhat overcome my problem by teaching my shorthair to search and retrieve my lure. She also finds hoods and gloves, and I'm think about doing car keys next. She is kind of like a seeing eye dog for stupid people.
It takes innovative individuals like yourself to lead falconers into places they have never gone before. There will always be scoffers who will resist change at all cost. I count myself as one of them.
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